I’ve spent the last few weeks in a mental rut of sorts, but I’m not about to start complaining about that. Instead, let’s ponder the cause/solution for my rut. Since I started training for the Pittsburgh Marathon I had not made it past 7 miles in a continuous run. Heck, that one 7 miler I did get in was the longest 100% run/no hiking distance I’ve gone in…months? Considering a marathon is nearly 20 miles further than my current “longest run” I needed to get my act together! I needed to run…longer.
…the world I discover when I get distracted on the trails…
Now, don’t assume I haven’t attempted longer runs or left the house with the best of intentions…they just haven’t been happening. Sometimes I get distracted on the trails and choose to spend my time running three miles up snow-packed trails rather than continue to the river path for faster miles. Sometimes I get sucked into work and the two hour window I wanted to spend running became a 45 minute window, if I skipped a shower before my next job. Sometimes I used the weather as an excuse to cut my runs short [45 degrees temperatures in the mountains = literal sheets of ice on the trails = near death slips = nope]. All the times my longer runs just don’t happen.
And today only really worked for one reason…the epiphany I had on Saturday.
Saturday is a prime example of work encroaching on my running time. I had settled into a coffee shop at 8am for a few hours of remote working. My game plan involved escaping into the unreasonable warm temperatures for 10ish miles around noon then heading into my hotel job for a 3p-11p shift. I headed out onto the trails at about 1:15 [yup, work’s fault] and did what I could to make the most of the time I had.
That run kind of sucked.
The weather was great; sunny + just over 50 degrees at almost 10,000 feet. The paved paths were inviting; either bone dry or perfectly puddled. But…I was fighting my body to keep going. My pace was slow, my legs felt heavy, my mojo was slomo. Until about mile 3.98, then it all changed. My pace dropped a whole minute without any added effort by me. I was smirking at the puddles and scaring the fly fisherman with excited hellos.
Uh, what the heck happened?
I hit four miles. And I’m pretty sure my body has a four mile warm-up threshold. Of course, by now I had run out of time to take advantage of this run-foria that showed up…off to work I went.
…I think they got lost? Makes me feel a bit better about ending up on the wrong end of town today! #couldbeworse
But it got me thinking. Maybe I’ve been sabotaging myself over the past few weeks. Most of my recent runs have been out/backs, meaning I’ll get about 2 or 3 miles away from home then turn myself around to finish my run with a pocket full of smiles but never more than 7 miles. I don’t recall all of my runs having “ugh” miles in the beginning but I do believe in the passive aggressive powers of a subconscious so…maybe my body really wants to wait four miles before it gets in the game?
On a mission to hit 10-12 miles I headed out onto the pavement this morning. Work has me in Boulder right now and I know absolutely nothing about the Boulder bike paths so I left the house with plans to…run. That’s it.
The first few miles were janky. Nothing was wrong but nothing was really that right either. My pace was slow [although I was ignoring it for the most part — I needed miles, not minutes] and my legs just weren’t functioning the way I knew they could. When I realized I had gone the wrong direction on some random trail it was so hard not to just go home and call it…at what would have been 5 miles by the time I doubled back.
Turning around was not an option. Yet.
I needed to see what happened when I hit this arbitrary four mile warm-up. Maybe I was full of it and my entire run would suck…but even if that was the case I desperately *needed* to cover the distance. This is what was happening in my brain, enjoy!
Mile 2.43: Oh, 10 more miles, that’s totally doable…NOT. What are you doing, you crazy moron! I wonder how much I have to pay someone to run a marathon for me?
Mile 3.14: Efffffff. This downhill is SO hard. Why am I even running. This is stupid.
Mile 3.83: Sweet baby squirrels, can I just turn around? That’d be 8 miles…8 is almost 12…
Mile 4.12: Oh, look, a hill! Let’s run an out/back on it just for funsies.
Mile 7.34: Only 5 more miles?! Where’d the time go? Also, where the hell am I?! Oh well…I’ll just keep running, it’s so nice out. Running is fun!
I kid you not, there was a complete 180 in my attitude + running ability around 4 miles in. In reality, I wasn’t tracking my run down to the 0.01 miles but somewhere in those miles that went down in the 30-45 minutes after I started running kicked my body into actual runner mode.
Robb + Max + the new GlowStreak LED ball from NiteIze…my latest excuse to get distracted on the trails!
And even after that turn around about four miles into my run I wasn’t seeing paces that I didn’t feel compelled to attach excuses to until mile 7. What?! Who has their best miles as they head into the end of their long runs? Maybe if I can keep my head on straight in the adrenaline of the first few miles of the Pittsburgh Marathon I’ll pull off a solid race with negative splits? Maybe? Yup, I’m must going to cling to that silver lining my like my legs depend on it.
I guess I finally understand why people really put time + effort into warming up before races…luckily with ultras you’re running 50+ miles and I have absolutely no guilt sacrificing the first four miles!
And yea, none of the photos scattered above are from today’s 50+ degree run in snow-less Boulder, they’re from random runs around Summit County last week. If you want to see more of brown Boulder check out my Snapchat: heidikumm. I don’t even talk that much…this time…